WASHINGTON – A federal court in Washington told the Trump administration on Friday that the government could not curb the possibility of detaining pregnant pregnant adolescents.
A judge issued an order on Friday evening to "disrupt" the government to allow or hinder access to abortion counseling or abortion while a lawsuit is in progress. The order refers to pregnant minors who are held in federal custody after illegal entry.
Lawyers from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which is responsible for protecting children illegally entering the country without a parent, said a policy of "easing abolition" abortions. And the director of the office that oversees the accommodations said he believes teenagers in his care have no constitutional right to abortion.
The American Civil Liberties Union instituted a lawsuit on behalf of minors, which also allowed Friday's case to be monitored as a class action lawsuit.
"We have been able to ensure justice for these young pregnant women in government custody who are no longer subject to the government's policy of coercion and obstruction while the case continues," said ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri, after the judge's order became public.
The government may appeal the judge's order. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice did not respond immediately to a request sent by e-mail for comments on Friday evening.
The ACLU and the Trump government have been arguing for months about government policy. In a high-profile case last year, the ACLU represented a teenager who illegally entered the US in September and learned in federal arrest in Texas that she was pregnant. She obtained a state court order that allowed her to have an abortion, but federal officials refused to transport her or release her temporarily, so others could take her away to try the procedure. The adolescent was eventually given an abortion in October because of the lawsuit, but the Trump administration has accused the ACLU of misleading the government during the case, an indictment denied by the ACLU.
The ACLU has since represented several other teens who have tried abortions while in detention, but the organization does not know any others who are actively seeking abortions, Amiri said Friday night. The judge's order now covers all teenagers currently in custody or being taken into custody during litigation.
In a December complaint filed as part of the lawsuit, Scott Lloyd, the director of the US Department of Health Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees care facilities for unaccompanied minor migrants, said that pregnant teens care for his agency have no right to abortion under the Constitution. Lloyd, who has written about his own resistance to abortion, said he had not approved abortions since he took office in March 2017. These included rejecting the request for abortion of a teenager who had been impregnated as a result of a rape.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said on Friday that Lloyd and his office "are certainly entitled to maintain and interest in fetal life, and even prefer that pregnant" minors in their custody "choose one course over another," but the government can • develop or implement a policy that "deprives minors of their right to make their own reproductive decisions".
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